US retail sales accelerated in July as consumers spent more at the pump for gasoline and snapped up electronics and appliances, official data showed Friday.
The Commerce Department reported retail sales rose 0.5 percent from June, matching analyst expectations and raising hopes that consumer spending, a key engine of economic growth, may be pulling out of the doldrums.It was the second straight month of gains, after June's data was revised upward to 0.3 percent. The department's initial estimate was a mere 0.1 percent.Excluding the motor vehicle sector, retail sales climbed 0.5 percent in July, beating the consensus forecast of 0.2 percent.
Gasoline sales were the biggest gainer, surging 1.6 percent in the month, according to the data which is seasonally adjusted but not for price changes. After peaking in May, gasoline prices edged up slightly in July.Sales at electronics and appliance stores climbed 1.4 percent.
The data suggested a resurgence in consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of US economic activity. The economy nearly stalled in the first half of the year, growing below 1.0 percent.Barclays Capital analyst Peter Newland said the data were "a strong start" for the third quarter that should translate into solid growth in real sales, given the decline in consumer price inflation from the second quarter."Alongside a likely further boost to auto sales, real consumption growth should be significantly stronger in Q3 than Q2," he said.